Weekend in Palm Springs

Just back from a quick weekend getaway to Palm Springs. Although we didn’t have much time, we got a good taste for the area and I am plotting our next visit.   I’d love to help you plan yours too!  If interested, email me at jrichardson@smartflyer.com!
How to get there – We flew nonstop to LAX and drove to Palm Springs from there. It was a haul (3 hours) because of traffic but if you time it well, you can make the drive in just under two hours. Palm Springs also has an airport, though flights to Palm Springs are not as frequent and may involve a layover along the way.   Tip – if you fly into LAX and rent a car, Hertz offers a pick up and drop off program where they arrange for a representative to bring a car from the rental area 5-10 minutes away directly to a parking spot outside baggage claim.  When you return the car, the representative jumps in and drives you directly to your terminal.  This saves the time and frustration of taking the shuttle to and from the rental car area.  Make advance plans for this service.  So convenient! Also this way you can break up the drive to PS by spending the afternoon in Venice Beach or Manhattan Beach – great way to break up the travel time, stretch your legs after the flight into LAX and grab a delicious lunch.
Where to Stay – There are many options but one of my top choices is The Parker (https://www.theparkerpalmsprings.com/). The design is super playful with artfully mismatched decor – think high-end flea market.  This hotel feels exclusive yet not pretentious.  Out back are beautiful maze-like gardens leading to many of their rooms as well as their pools and other public spaces reserved for guests only. Norma’s (of Le Parker Meridien in NYC) is their main restaurant and they also have Mr. Parker’s, which is opened on most nights for dinner. Mr. Parker’s has a retro, sexy lounge vibe with a beautiful baby grand piano. The restaurant was closed when we visited so we didn’t see it in action but I am guessing that live music is part of the equation there.  If you are visiting this hotel with kids, you need to be okay with artwork around the hotel that highlights drugs and nudie women.
L’Horizon is supposed to be great too for an adults-only experience (http://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/). Curated by A-list designer Steve Hermann, it has 25 bungalows set amidst three acres with views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
For a more traditional five-star luxury option, the Ritz is a classic (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/rancho-mirage?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2). It is beautifully set overlooking various mountain ranges in the area and the property is huge. The public spaces and rooms are  spacious but could use a bit of refreshing. I must give credit where credit is due: their service was impeccable – so polite and helpful. If you like to get your morning groove on, there are a few hiking options on property, including a daily, guided 7am hike.
If you’re looking for quirky and/ or more bohemian hotel options, there are plenty of those as well in the area!
To do
Joshua Tree National Park is an hour away by car and a must see. It’s also about 20 degrees cooler than Palm Springs, which was a steamy 105 during our stay. We only had a few hours at JT but it was so worthwhile. The Ryan Mountain hike is great with a huge treat at the apex in the form of 360 views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. There are a ton of hiking options of all levels throughout the park.  The Noah Purifoy Museum is supposed to be great (http://www.noahpurifoy.com/joshua-tree-outdoor-museum/) and the Integratron nearby sounds like a cool experience as well (book in advance) (http://joshuatree.guide/integratron/).
Just outside the West entrance of the park are a few cafes and a health food market if you want to grab a bite on your way in.   My top two choices are: The Three Sisters Cafe (http://www.naturalsisterscafe.com/) for grab and go style (and it’s two doors down from a great health food market) and the Crossroads Cafe (http://crossroadscafejtree.com/) for table service. Make sure to enter the park with plenty of water as there is nowhere to purchase or refill water once inside the park.
Pioneertown – Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace (https://www.pappyandharriets.com/) is a great stop after spending a day in Joshua Tree. It’s a restaurant with live music nightly (even some big names have been known to stop in and take the stage) and a crowd-pleasing menu. If you go before sundown, check out the village beside the restaurant, which was built in the first half of the 20th century by Hollywood celebs and investors as a movie set based on an 1870’s town.
Aerial Tramway – Gorgeous views with hikes at the top, plus dining options if it felt like a lot of work to get up by tram!  https://www.pstramway.com/
Architecture tours – If mid-century modern architecture is your thing, PS is your place. Even their airport and library boast a mid-century modern aesthetic! If you are looking to learn more about mid-century modernism in PS, there are plenty of tours that focus on that very topic. A few to check out are http://www.themoderntour.com/, http://www.palmspringsmoderntours.com/ and https://www.psmodsquad.com/.
Shopping – Palm Springs has its “Uptown Design District” which is a tiny area that focuses on unique and original home decor within about a 10 block radius on N. Palm Canyon Drive. The Shops at 1345 (http://theshopsat1345.com/) is a good starting point.  Also two of my favorite boutiques in Palm Springs are Elizabeth and Prince (https://www.elizabethandprince.com/) for women’s clothing (they have locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert) and H2O Closet Apothecary (http://www.h2ocloset.com/) for skincare and candles. The owner Ken is an absolute sweetheart and I fell in love with their Maison Louie Marie scented candles.
Palm Desert is referred to by locals as the Rodeo Drive of the region with designer and big box stores like Apple, Saks and Lululemon alongside a handful of smaller boutiques.
To eat – So.Pa is a beautiful outdoor restaurant at the L’Horizon Hótel. The atmosphere is better than the food but the food is still really nice. The diver scallops are a must!  http://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/sopa-restaurant
Norma’s (https://www.theparkerpalmsprings.com/food-and-drink/) is always an easy, crowd-pleaser for lunch at The Parker and the setting is so happy and laid back!
Workshop (http://workshoppalmsprings.com/) is an upscale, industrial chic farm- to-table restaurant in the town of Palm Springs that gets a lot of hype. The food was good- not outstanding-although we did gobble up the fries, the roasted Brussels sprouts and the chocolate cake and homemade ice cream, which are not to be missed for dessert.
El Hefe (https://thesaguaro.com/palm-springs/#eat-drink is a Mexican joint inside the Saguaro Hotel. Their salsa, guacamole and chips hit the spot if it’s Mexican fare you’re craving and they have a full menu of tacos, quesadillas and salads if you are still hungry. Vibe is super casual, loud and dark. They don’t take reservations.
In Palm Springs the sun is always shining so if you need some Vitamin D this winter, let’s make that happen!  jrichardson@smartflyer.com.


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